The Trump administration is pushing ahead with its plan to require drugmakers to disclose their list prices for medications in consumer advertising, much as they warn about possible side effects. The move, part of the administration’s blueprint to lower drug prices, was announced Monday by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
“Patients deserve to know what a given drug could cost when they’re being told about the benefits and risks it may have. They deserve to know if the drug company has pushed their prices to abusive levels. And they deserve to know this every time they see a drug advertised on TV,” Azar tweeted.
Experts question whether the new rule would be effective and warn that it “could even confuse patients, considering the complexities of drug pricing,” say Politico’s Dan Diamond and Sarah Karlin-Smith, who were first to report news of this week’s proposed regulations.
The pharmaceutical industry on Monday tried to preemptively push back on the proposed regulation. "We believe just including list prices is not sufficient and would be misleading for several reasons," Stephen Ubl, CEO of PhRMA, the industry’s main lobbying arm, said on a press call, according to Politico.
The actual out-of-pocket prices patients pay can vary significantly from drugs’ list prices as a result of insurance plan coverage and negotiated discounts provided to pharmacy benefit managers. Ubl warned that posting list prices could discourage patients from seeking medical care.
PhRMA said that its member companies will, as of April 15, begin using television ads to direct consumers to information about drug costs.
Azar said that didn’t go far enough. “The drug industry remains resistant to providing real transparency around their prices, including the sky-high list prices that many patients pay,” he said in a statement. “So while the pharmaceutical industry’s action today is a small step in the right direction, we will go further and continue to implement the President’s blueprint to deliver new transparency and put American patients first.”
The issue could wind up in court, as PhRMA indicated it will likely challenge the administration’s plan on First Amendment grounds.